Projects to look forward to in 2023

The upcoming year is going to be interesting for Blender. Aside from the blender.org community effort to keep core functionality stable and up to date, several high profile projects have started already that – fingers crossed – might get realized this year.


Vulkan and Metal

OpenGL currently powers the user interface, 3D viewports and EEVEE. However it is expected to be deprecated by the industry in the coming years. Blender developers already work for many years to prepare a move away from OpenGL.

Vulkan is the cross-platform successor to OpenGL, with many opportunities to improve performance and new features like ray-tracing. Blender Foundation will invest developer time to finish a migration to the Vulkan graphics API in 2023.

In parallel – and using – this development, Apple engineers have been working on making Blender fully compatible with the Metal graphics API on macOS. This project is also expected to wrap up in 2023.

Realtime Viewport Compositing

This project adds a new compositor backend, taking advantage of GPU acceleration to be performant enough for realtime interaction.

As a first step, this backend powers the new viewport compositor, which applies the result of the compositing nodes directly in the 3D viewport. Artists do not have to wait for a full render to start compositing, for faster and more interactive iterations.

The initial version of this feature will be available in Blender 3.5. The next steps are to support more nodes and features, and in the long term bring GPU acceleration to the existing compositor.

Brush Assets

The asset system and browser will fully support brushes for painting and sculpting. This makes it easy to use, make and share bundles of brushes with others.

Blender Apps

Thanks to Blender’s very high level of customization using Python scripting, it’s possible to build up Blender from scratch with your own UIs and editor layouts. This combined with bundling .blend files (assets, data) you can create it to make custom tools or complete experiences.

Extensions Platform

Blender Foundation will launch an official community-moderated website for sharing, discovering and downloading add-ons, themes, and asset libraries.

The extensions site will only offer GNU GPL compliant software, or CC-BY–SA compatible content. No commercialization will happen on the platform. It aims to be attractive for artists and add-on developers to freely share their work on blender.org, even if they choose to be using third-party services to generate revenues with the same or similar extensions.

EEVEE Next

Blender’s realtime rendering engine EEVEE has been evolving constantly since its introduction in Blender 2.80. The goal was to make it viable both for asset creation and final rendering, and to support a wide range of workflows. However, thanks to the latest hardware innovations, many new techniques have become viable, and EEVEE can take advantage of them.

Expect new features such as screen-space global illumination, more efficient shading and lighting, improved volume rendering and panoramic cameras.

Simulation Nodes

With geometry nodes getting hair support last year, this year the focus will be on simulation for physics and beyond. The system will be designed for interactivity and experimentation, with simulations running in the viewport at their own clock while editing objects and nodes.

Upgrade of developer.blender.org with Gitea

Blender developers currently use Phabricator for project management, code review and issue tracking. Unfortunately that software was discontinued, so we looked at a good replacement. The choice was to use Gitea, which is a fully free/open source software project with functionality similar to GitHub.

The main job was to migrate the full 20 years of development history of Blender to this new (Git based) software management system.

Character Animation

Animation and rigging is going to get a full makeover in the coming years, including making the core design future proof and many ideas to improve the experience for animators.

A large group of developers and expert animators are involved with it. Kick-off was at the last Blender Conference, you can read the report below.

And there’s more!

The grease pencil team will come with ambitious plans, there’s an exciting texture painting and sculpting speedup coming, and Hydra render delegates and other USD improvements are under development. The procedural texturing project – while not having a concrete roadmap and resources yet – is still a goal.

Most of this you will read by following the Blender Code Blog.

On behalf of everyone, best wishes for a great 2023!

Ton Roosendaal, Chairman Blender Foundation.